Rabbibrian's Blog

A Voice for Justice and Peace in Israel/Palestine

Israeli Ambassador: U.S statement could have been drafted in Tel Aviv.

Posted by rabbibrian on October 5, 2009

It could have been drafted in Tel Aviv, it was so wonderful. The statement upheld the morality of the IDF, it upheld Israel’s right to defend itself against terror, it upheld the integrity of the Israeli legal system.”

“I spent several hours calling people in Washington, thanking them [for being] willing to show such courage and such commitment to the US-Israel alliance. It was very, very inspiring.”

This statement by Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., highlights how closely the United States followed the Israeli lead on the Goldstone Report.  I find this just outrageous.  Why did the U.S. decide to toe the line so closely with Israel on the report?  It seems that the United States bartered some concession from Israel  in terms of final status talks in return for complicity with Israel in squashing the Goldstone Report.  You can read more about this, and also some possibilities as to what Israel and the U.S. promised the P.A. in return for withdrawing the Goldstone Report at the United Nations Human Rights Council, on Richard Silverstein’s blog.

This trading between the U.S., Israel and the P.A. resulting in immunity for Israel is  just shocking.  I wonder if the Obama Administration is counting on Netanyahu to fulfill whatever promises Israel made regarding the “peace process.”   Didn’t they learn anything from their experience with Netanyahu in haggling over a settlement freeze?   More importantly, how can one separate human rights issues from the issue of peace.

Oren refers to three aspects of the American report that he celebrates:

1. “It upheld the morality of the I.D.F.

After countless reports by Israeli human rights organizations over the past two decades documenting human rights violations by the I.D.F. (just visit the B’tselem website for a listing of their reports) our government perpetuates the lie of the I.D.F. as  “the most moral army in the world?”  There is every reason to believe that the Israeli army is no different from any other army.  For the past forty two years, the I.D.F. has been an army of occupation and during this period of time it has committed countless human rights violations against the Palestinians.  I remember a conversation I had with one of the leaders of Shovrim Shtika/Soldiers Breaking the Silence describing the shocking actions that he and his soldiers took as a matter of course during their service in the Occupied Territories.  On several visits to Israel and the Occupied Territories I have seen with my own eyes, the way the I.D.F. violates the rights of Palestinians in so many ways.

If the Israeli army is in reality “the most moral army in the world”, why doesn’t Israel follow the recommendation of the Goldstone report and appoint an independent, credible, transparent investigation into the allegations about Gaza and prove it.  Not only hasn’t Israel done this, it has taken many steps over the years to try to prevent any independent observers from being on the West Bank.  Failing a credible, independent investigation, I don’t understand why anyone should believe this claim.

2. “It upheld Israel’s right to defend itself against terror”

Despite the fact that Judge Goldstone has repeated over and over again that his report did not in any way address the issue of whether Israel had a right to launch the assault on Gaza or, for that matter, whether Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups have the right to resist the Israeli blockade by attacking Israel, the Israeli and U.S. government continue to argue that the report questioned Israel’s right to defend itself. This issue was out of the purview of the Goldstone Commission, it focuses strictly on whether both parties, Israel and Hamas, violated International Humanitarian Law by attacking civilians.  The reason Israel repeats this claim is to  deflect attention from the substance of the report that focuses on human rights violations by both sides.

3. “It upheld the integrity of the Israeli legal system.”

This assertion is a response to the call for a credible, transparent and independent investigation into the charges of the Goldstone Report.  No country or military in the world should be trusted to investigate serious charges that are made about their conduct.  Israel does not have a great record of accountability in terms of violations committed by its forces against Palestinians and despite Israel’s claim of many investigations in process, this is true in relation to Operation Cast Lead as well.  Here is what Jessica Montell, executive director of B’Tselem, says about the investigations that Israel touts in regard to Operation Cast Lead.

FOR MONTHS, Israeli human rights organizations have urged our government to open credible, independent investigations into the hundreds of allegations of military misconduct in Gaza. The authorities have stubbornly refused, largely making do with military debriefings that categorically absolve our forces of any wrongdoing. Only a handful of military police investigations have been opened, and the one criminal investigation to be concluded is the exception that proves the rule. A soldier in the Givati brigade was tried, convicted and sentenced – for stealing a credit card.

As an American citizen, I am shocked at the role that our government has played.  I don’t understand how Michael Posner, himself a dedicated human rights advocate, can support this position.  I don’t trust the U.S. government to investigate allegations of human rights violations by our army and I don’t trust Israel’s govenment either.   It requires an independent investigation and that is what Goldstone suggested.

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6 Responses to “Israeli Ambassador: U.S statement could have been drafted in Tel Aviv.”

  1. Y. Ben-David said

    I see in your previous thread you refer to the withdrawal of the Goldstone Report as a “cover-up of a massive crime”. These are your words.

    So there you have it: you are calling a military operation conducted by the Israeli government with the full backing of the Israeli people a “massive crime”. To this day, I hear practically no support for Goldstone in Israel, even among the hard-Left. Thus, you are drawing a line between yourself and Israel and putting yourself outside. I don’t see how you can expect your criticism of Israel from now on to be viewed as one coming from a “Jew deeply concerned about Israel”. You are putting yourself in the camp of those hostile to Israel.

    You know darned well that many by-stander civilians have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan by YOUR American army (you DID go out of your way to point out that you are an American citizen) YET YOU HAVE NOT BLOGGED ANY DEMANDS FOR WAR CRIMES TRIALS FOR YOUR PRESIDENT OBAMA OR HIS MILITARY OFFICERS.
    When it comes to Israel, suddenly, you become super-moralistic. As an self-defined outsider crticizing Israel, it is incumbent on you to show consistency or you will simply show yourself to be yet another one of those Jews over the ages who bends over backwards to make war on his own people in order to show the others that “he is one of the ‘good’ Jews”.

  2. How apropos and illustrative of Israeli hasbara!!

    Mr. Ben-David’s entire comment fails to address the issue of Israel’s moral failures in Gaza [which are, of course, indefensible] and devolves into a sleight-of-hand attempt to ‘blame the messenger’ for some [presumed] bias. If you can divert the argument into irrelevancies, you can avoid dealing with critical issues – a strategy Israel’s employed successfully in it’s go-nowhere, do-nothing while building settlements, approach to negotiations with the Palestinians since they first began.

    I’m particularly amused at his justification for war crimes by invoking “the full backing of the Israeli people”. Oh, well, if that’s the case everything’s wonderful – morality by consensus. If we apply the same logic to the Shoah, the Nazis weren’t guilty of anything because they also had “the full backing” of the German people (at that time).

    Preposterous!

    Rabbi Walt’s position on U.S. atrocities & war crimes in Iraq & Afghanistan is not known to me and, in a commentary on Israeli atrocities, is irrelevant since what he has, or hasn’t, said on those issues [although I suspect I could guess his position] has no bearing on the fact that Israel went bat-shit crazy in Gaza and attempted to resolve “the Palestinian Problem” with its own “Final Solution”.

    Mr. Ben-David, time to rid yourself of the ‘eternal victim’ mentality and open yourself to the reality of the Palestinian’s victimization at Israel’s hands.

  3. Y. Ben-David said

    Okay, Rael, I will explain it to you clearly (in spite of your usual dismissives epithets of me being a “hasbaranik”)

    ISRAEL DID NOT COMMIT WAR CRIMES IN GAZA. THE WAR WAS MORAL.
    GOLDSTONE IS A FRAUD.

    This is what the vast majority of people in Israel believe, people, unlike those critics in the US who had to undergo THOUSANDS of rocket attacks over the years.

    Is that clear enough for you?

  4. Y. Ben-David said

    I, of course meant, that the people of Israel, who were forced into the Gaza war, underwent thousands of indiscriminate rocket attacks over the years, unlike these armchair critics in the US who set themselves up as supermoralists at our expense.

  5. Y. Ben-David said

    I feel I must clarify. You are entitled to oppose Israeli policies in the Gaza war. You are entitled to express that opposition publicly. You are entitled to lobby the Israeli public and government to investigate the conduct of the war, even though I do not see any grounds for this, as I expressed in my earlier comment. YOU DO NOT HAVE ANY RIGHT TO PRESS FOR ISRAELI OFFICIALS OR MILITARY OFFICERS OR PERSONNEL TO BE TRIED FOR WAR CRIMES BY ANY INTERNATIONAL BODY.

  6. Mr. Ben-David,

    Your repeated attempts at self-justification indicate a profound lack of moral certainty.

    For your edification, I have every right to label Israel’s disproportionate military attack on a pitiful handful of Hamas militants (that doesn’t include the criminal attack on the Hamas police cadets graduating the day Israel chose to attack them)a war crime. Further, I have every right to declare Israel’s directed and terroristic attacks against defenseless women, children, and young adults in Gaza as war crimes (regardless of how Israelis ‘vote’ they aren’t Hamas operatives). And, I have every right to label Israel’s intentional destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure (hospitals, power plants, UNRWA food depots, sewage treatment plants, fishing fleet [not to mention fishermen’s murders], police stations [with murdered graduating cadets] and other place) war crimes.

    Further, I have every right to demand that Israel be held to account for its inhuman & criminal behavior by the appropriate international justice bodies and to agitate for all & sundry to join in the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions)Campaign to force Israel to behave by the standards it claims to demand of other nations.

    And, in a brief civics lesson, Mr. Ben-David, it doesn’t matter a whit what “the vast majority of people in Israel believe” regarding this issue. Even if the entire population of Israel (including Arab-Israelis) agreed (which, naturally, they don’t) Israel’s vote on the world stage would be a brief puff of smoke in the wind of world opinion.

    When determining what’s legal, the morality of overwhelming majority sets the rules – that’s why the U.S. Government, prosecuted the Mafia rather than say “Oh, well… the Mafia’s rules allow murder, extortion,and other crimes so I guess it’s ‘moral’ “.

    And, lastly, had Israel recognized and responded to the Palestinian’s just demands for reinstatement in their lands & homes (according to international law), the people of Sderot wouldn’t not have had to live under fire from the descendants of Sderot’s original occupants.

    Your argument’s a load of self-justifying crap!

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